Social Ontology

Recasting Political Philosophy Through a Phenomenology of Whoness

Michael Eldred

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Social Ontology Ver. 2.0Book cover: Social Ontology
First published by ontos verlag, Frankfurt, Germany 2008. Available from online bookstores such as  Amazon under the title Social Ontology : Recasting Political Philosophy Through a Phenomenology of Whoness ontos verlag, 2008 Hardback xiv + 688 pp. ISBN 978-3-938793-78-7. Also at  Google Book Search. A second revised, emended and extended  e-book edition, Version 2.1, July 2011, 785 pp. is available on this web-site.
Freedom, value, power, justice, government, legitimacy are major themes of this inquiry. It explores the ontological structure of human beings associating with one another, the basic phenomenon of society. We human beings strive to become who we are in an ongoing power interplay with each other. Thinkers called as witnesses include Plato, Aristotle, Anaximander, Protagoras, Hobbes, Descartes, Leibniz, Locke, Adam Smith, Hume, Hegel, Marx, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Schumpeter, Hayek, Carl Schmitt, Ernst Jünger, et al.

"Classical liberalism has neglected the ontological structure of the interplay of powers in the practical realm of a plurality of wills, and thus the ontological problematic of esteem, estimation, evaluation, validation, recognition, etc. among both human beings and things. In short, ... it is ontologically blind to the phenomenon of whoness. Instead it has imagined the free individual as a subject without a social world, and then tried to derive society from a bunch of atomistic individuals." Chapter 12 i)

"In this lengthy study, Eldred seeks to rethink social and political philosophy in light of a phenomenology or ontology of Whoness, especially as such Whoness shows up in various forms of social, economic, and political exchange or 'interplay'. ... While I have not treated them at all in this review, thoughtful readers will also find especially insightful, first, Eldred's discussion in Chapter 8 of Leibniz's Principle of Sufficient Reason and the search for a reliable science of economics, and second, his critique in Chapter 11 of Heidegger's early 1930's attempt at defining a German Volk. In sum, this is a fine study that ought to belong in any library collection that supports advanced work in social and political theory." Roderick M. Stewart, Philosophy Department, Austin College,Texas, review in American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly Vol. 84 Issue 3, Summer 2010 pp.635-638.

"Eldred warns of the 'phenomenological violence' that has occurred in the Western tradition, because its third-person approach to ontology fails to account adequately for the social dimension of human existence. ... In the sway of the third-person approach to metaphysics, and deeply suspicious of modernity, Heidegger discounted the social ontology of thinkers such as Adam Smith, G.W.F. Hegel, Karl Marx, George Mead, and many others." Michael E. Zimmerman, University of Colorado in his article 'The Development of Heidegger's Nietzsche-Interpretation'. Published as: 'Die Entwicklung von Heideggers Nietzsche-Interpretation' Vol.II Heidegger-Jahrbuch Verlag Karl Alber, Freiburg/München 2005 pp.97-116.

"As the Australian philosopher Michael Eldred remarks, things are not intrinsically valuable, but they are good for something. Their usefulness, which is reflected and temporarily fixed as exchange value in money, arises only in the context of usages as a way of our living together, or ethos in the sense of customary practice. The same can be said with regard of our own abilities or capabilities. ... Both aspects of ... our lives as validators within a community, are indirectly reflected in the "interplay" (Eldred) of evaluating things." Rafael Capurro, Prof. em. and Director of the International Center for Information Ethics (ICIE), Karlsruhe in his article 'Go Glocal: Intercultural Comparison of Leadership Ethics' in Infopreneurship Journal (IJ), Vol.1 No.1 2013 pp.1-9.

To find out what the book is not about, read the uncomprehending repudiation in apl. Prof. Dr. Dr. Heinz-Gerd Schmitz's review in Philosophisches Jahrbuch ISSN 00318183 Vol. 116 No. 1 2009 pp. 228-229.

A superior review from a decidedly critical Marxist perspective is Tony Smith's in Science & Society ISSN 0036-8237 Vol. 74 No. 4 2010 pp. 565-568. See my reply to Smith.


Copyright (c) 2000-2013 by Michael Eldred, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of international and U.S. copyright law, and it may be archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that the author is notified and no fee is charged for access. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the consent of the author.

At Google Book Search:
Social Ontology at Google Book SearchLast modified: 11-May-2014
Version 2.1 July 2011
Emended, revised & extended e-book Version 2.0 Jan. 2011
Version 1.2 Nov. 2009
Version 1.1 July 2008
Version 1.0 Feb. 2008
First put on site 15-Feb-2008

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